Posted by: Alan | May 31, 2010

The Top 50 Films of 1990-1999

“I got a feeling that behind those jeans is something wonderful just waiting to get out.”

20. Boogie Nights – (1997) – 177 points
(13 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Kevin J)

Although it was released in 1997, I wouldn’t see Boogie Nights for a few more years. Even being a pretentious movie snob at the age of sixteen couldn’t have prepared me for this film. I remember my jaw being on the floor for 90% of the film and it had little to do with the porn aspect. It was the first film I took notice of both John C. Reilly and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It was also the first P.T. Anderson movie that I fell in love with and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. Brilliant performances from Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, and William H. Macy comes the story of the porn industry in the late 70’s and 80’s.


Paul Thomas Anderson has long been one of my favorite directors, and in this, his second film (but first hit) he does what he does best – Putting a large ensemble of characters in intersecting stories. But in doing so, he really creates a world of his own that while clearly modeled after the real life porn industry during the 70s, seems incredibly unique. Watching this movie makes me sad that John C. Reilly is doing Will Ferrell comedies now.


“I killed two guys, Danny, I killed them. And it didn’t make me feel any different. It just got me more lost.”

19. American History X – (1998) – 180 points
(12 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Heather D)

Edward Norton at his best. It’s amazing to see three different periods of Derek Vinyard’s life – sappy, impressionable Derek whose Dad just died; skinhead Derek who spends his free-time fucking Fairuza Balk and curb-stomping people; and reformed Derek who just wants a good life for his brother. Seriously, the character transformations in this film alone make it worth the watch, and Edward Norton deserves any praise he gets for it. But on top of that, it’s a really engaging story with wonderfully composed scenes and some great performances by the rest of the cast as well.


“We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented, it’s as simple as that.”

18. The Truman Show – (1998) – 189 points
(12 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Red Paratroopa, Wat)

Jim Carrey decided for a while that he wanted to be a serious actor. And surprisingly, it worked. Of course The Truman Show starts out less serious than it becomes, but he plays the role perfectly, and it was a fantastic transitional film for him. It’s unfortunate he still does the goofy movies nowadays, because it doesn’t work as well for him anymore, perhaps because we’ve seen what he is capable of now. Beyond his performance, this is a moving, funny, and slightly existential film that unfortunately seemed to predict the reality craze of the early 2000s. Seriously, we’re getting closer and closer to a real-life Truman Show, and perhaps more scary is the fact that I’d probably watch it.


“Why am I Mr. Pink?”

17. Reservoir Dogs – (1992) – 191 points
(15 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #2 – Kaleb, Drew)

The movie that put Tarantino on “the map.” The story of six criminals, who also happen to be strangers, hired to rob a jewelry store. When the cops arrive within minutes of the crimes execution, the remaining thieves begin to suspect a police informant amongst them. Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, and Steve Buscemi all give outstanding performances – as does the rest of the cast. The film is full of what we’ve grown to love about Tarantino – long takes, outrageous dialogue and a killer soundtrack.


“Now, you gotta promise me you’re not gonna kill anyone, right?”

16. Terminator 2: Judgement Day – (1991) – 193 points
(14 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #2 – Patrick)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, commonly abbreviated as T2, is a 1991 science fiction action film directed, co-written and co-produced by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton,Edward Furlong, and Robert Patrick. Set eleven years after the events of The Terminator, it follows Sarah Connor, her 10-year-old son John, and a reprogrammed Terminator from the future as they defend themselves from a T-1000 and attempt to prevent Judgment Day, a future event in which machines will begin to exterminate humanity.

T2 was a significant box office and critical success. It had an impact on popular culture, and is considered by many to be hugely influential in the genres of action and science fiction.The film’s visual effectsinclude many breakthroughs in computer-generated effects, marking the first use of natural human motion for a CG character and the first partially computer-generated main character. The film won several awards including four Academy Awards for makeup, sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.

“With every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel.”

15. Saving Private Ryan – (1998) – 194 points
(12 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Spoodles)

This isn’t your typical war movie. It follows a group of soldiers sent on a rather unorthodox mission – to find Private Ryan (hey! that’s why the title!) and get him home. His many brothers who were also in the army were KIA and the higher-ups decided they don’t want him to be added to the casualties. So while there are plenty of action/war scenes – the initial strike on Normandy is one of the greatest war scenes filmed – it’s really more about this particular mission and the soldier’s thoughts about it. Why should they go chasing one man when there’s so much else to do? Will he even want to leave? Of course we get some great performances by Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, but there’s such a large amount of great actors in this film sometimes I forget they’re in it – Nathan Fillion, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranston, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina – and a personal favorite is a pre-LOST Jeremy Davies.


“I am 42 years old; in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don’t know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.”

14. American Beauty – (1999) – 197 points
(14 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #2 – Andy)

I have no idea what happened to Kevin Spacey. He could have had it all. Brilliant performances in The Usual Suspects and American Beauty have now petered into roles in Fred Claus and 21. Whining aside, I love everything about this movie. Sam Mendes’ direction is undeniably brilliant as is Conrad L. Hall’s Cinematography. I truthfully cannot praise this movie enough. Writer Alan Ball offers us the story of a recently fired suburbanite in the midst of a mid-life crisis. He has taken quite the liking to his teenaged daughter’s friend, while his wife (played by a phenomenal Annette Bening) is shacking up with a colleague. If the masterful performances were not enough, the audience is graced with a dazzling, haunting score by the superb Thomas Newman.


“I really do have love to give; I just don’t know where to put it.”

13. Magnolia – (1999) – 197 points
(13 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Andy)

One of my favorite films of all time. I have always been a fan of believable, well-developed characters, and this film has them in spades (what does that saying mean). Not only that, but it features a lot of my favorite actors of all time (Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters, Philip Baker Hall) and even makes a great use of Tom Cruise. The ending is one of the more divisive endings I’ve seen, but once the initial shock of it wears off, it works for me. And the more I watch it the more I understand it. And I hate to repeat myself over and over, but the final shots of the movie are one of my favorite moments in film. Ever.


“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”

12. Groundhog Day – (1993) – 198 points
(12 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Randy, Patrick)

This is one of those movies I’ll always watch if it’s on TV. It’s actually a very addictive film, when I think about it. You watch Bill Murray go through one day and you want to see what he does differently the next time he goes through that same day. Then you get the montages of him killing himself, and trying to woo Andie Macdowell, and learning to better himself as a human being, and learning new skills, and you’re hooked. While at first this seems like a fun comedy with a strange hook (man living same day over and over), repeat viewings give a very different grasp of the subject material, and it tells me to ‘seize the day’ better than Robin Williams speaking latin ever could.


“I saved Latin. What did you ever do?”

11. Rushmore – (1998) – 209 points
(11 of 39 lists. Highest ranking #1 – Ed)

Writers Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson deliver the quirky story of Max Fischer, the king of the private school Rushmore Academy. The precocious Max deals with his best friend stealing the love of his life, being put on academic probation, and the looming cancellation of Latin. There is not one unexciting scene in the entire film and if offers laugh after marvelous laugh. It is the film that everyone took notice of Wes Anderson’s tight direction and unconventional character development. I could watch this movie everyday and never tire of it. The soundtrack is sensational, the performances are extraordinary, and it remains to be endlessly quotable.



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